Thinking Like a Content & Brand Strategist
This is a guest blog post by Andrea Martone, veteran freelance writer, public relations and special events consultant from New York and founder/President of Intuitive Vision Network.
Technology has dramatically changed the way people consume content. A good example can be seen with most printed media that have digital formats, giving readers the ability to turn to their smart phones and computers to access news and stories—a tremendous (and positive) shift in terms of accessibility and convenience.
Perhaps the most dramatic recent shift, however, is the source of content. Media now has to share the space with brands in the hopes of ultimately captivating readers.
All this leads to the emergence of a new tactic in the public relations and marketing realm called “content and brand strategy.”
For example, Wells Fargo recently launched into the brand journalism space with web magazine Wells Fargo Stories. The San Francisco-based banking corporation is now using their website to promote interesting stories about its employees, customers and the communities in which it conducts business. The site resembles a feature magazine, with photos, videos and articles about Wells Fargo, such as a feature about an employee who helped push a stalled car on railroad tracks out of harm’s way and an explanation of the bank’s decision to stop using Styrofoam in its cafeterias.
With its web magazine, Wells Fargo Stories is opening a window into the company’s vision and values, and features internal, human-interest experiences that will resonate with readers and potential Wells Fargo clients in a way that goes deeper than a tweet or ‘like’ can convey.
Other brands in the healthcare and consumer product realm are beginning to adopt brand journalism as they seek to connect with a changing U.S. demographic and a younger generation—especially the millennials—that has embraced social media over traditional news outlets. This is an excellent opportunity for public relations professional to wear many hats and perform many functions. For instance, if you’re handling content strategy for your organization (either internally or externally), it gives us the opportunity to be investigative reporters, analysts, and true team members—working in tandem with the marketing departments or agencies to maintain message consistency and develop compelling storylines. This team effort allows the PR, social media and events teams to create and use content while simultaneous achieving the same marketing and business goals.
A good analogy can be visualized as you sift through a cluttered closet and try to sort everything out and put things in order. Brand and content strategists do the same for your company’s content- sifting through mounds of information; identifying what can be translated into compelling content; categorizing this content into logical buckets; and setting up a system that can be easily maintained and updated to help readers take full advantage of content.
Last year, the Association of National Advertisers launched a survey indicating that 58% of member companies had in-house creative, up from 42% in 2008. Of those surveyed, 56% took charge of established business that used to be handled by their agencies. Brands are obviously onto something big by taking their content in house and pooling their creative resources.
Isn’t it time that public relations experts and journalists use the same strategy and start wearing more hats?
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